Helen Russell or Archdale (1876 – 1949)

Image of Helen Russell or Archdale
Helen Alexander Archdale (née Russell) by Lafayette
© National Portrait Gallery, London

On 20th October 1909 Helen Russell or Archdale was imprisoned in Dundee for ten days for breaching the peace after she helped lead a crowd to storm a meeting at the Kinnaird Hall, where Winston Churchill was speaking. She was released on the 24th after going on hunger strike.

Helen Russell was born in Nenthorn, Berwick, on 25th August 1876. Her father, Alexander Russell was a journalist and editor of The Scotsman. Helen was educated at St Leonards School and the University of St Andrews.

On 9th October 1901, in the Episcopal Church of St Andrews, she married Theodore M. Archdale, a Captain in the Royal Artillery. They had two sons and one daughter, and later separated. In 1908 Helen joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and became its organiser in several cities, including Edinburgh. She had a close relationship with Emmeline Pankhurst.

After the war Helen continued her feminist activities as president of the Equal Rights International Committee at the League of Nations in Geneva and editor of Time and Tide, a feminist socio-political magazine.

She died in London on 8th December 1949.

Helen's case can be examined in a file held by National Records of Scotland.